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involves some experience that results in a relatively permanent change in the state of the learner


a general process in which repeated or prolonged exposure to a stimulus results in a gradual reduction in responding, usually isn't permanent

Classical Conditioning

when a neutral stimulus evokes a response after being paired with a stimulus that naturally evokes a response

Unconditioned Stimulus (US)

something that reliably produces a naturally occurring reaction in an organism

Unconditioned Response (UR)

a reflexive reaction that is reliably elicited by an unconditioned stimulus

Conditioned Stimulus (CS)

a stimulus that is initially neutral and produces no reliable response in an organism

Conditioned Response

a reaction that resembles an unconditioned response but is produced by a conditioned stimulus


the phase of classical conditioning when the CS and US are presented together

Second-Order Conditioning

conditioning where the US is a stimulus that acquired its ability to produce learning from an earlier procedure in which it was used as a CS


the gradual elimination of a learned response that occurs when the US is no longer presented

Spontaneous Recovery

the tendency of a learned behavior to recover from extinction after a rest period


a process in which the CR is observed even though the CS is slightly different from the original one used during acquisition


the capacity to distinguish between similar but distinct stimuli


an effect suggesting that some underlying neural changes that occurred during initial learning are "saved" no matter how many extinction trials are conducted

Biological Preparedness

a propensity for learning particular kinds of associations over others

Operant Conditioning

a type of learning in which the consequences of an organism's behavior determine whether it will be repeated in the future

Law of Effect

the principle that behaviors that are followed by a satisfying state of affairs tend to be repeated and those that produce an unpleasant state of affairs are less likely to be repeated

Operant Behavior

behavior that an organism produces that has some impact on the environment


any stimulus or event that functions to increase the likelihood of the behavior that led to it


any stimulus or event that functions to decrease the likelihood of the behavior that led to it

Primary Reinforcers

help satisfy biological needs (food, comfort, shelter, warmth)

Secondary Reinforcers

have little or nothing to do with biological satisfaction

Premack Principle

states that discerning which of two activities someone would rather engage in means that the preferred activity can be used to reinforce a nonpreferred one- (you can establish a hierarchy of behaviors for an individual in order to determine which kinds of events might be maximally reinforcing)

Stimulus Control

governs most behavior, develops when a particular response only occurs when the appropriate stimulus is present

Overjustification Effect

circumstances when external rewards can undermine the intrinsic satisfaction of performing a behavior

Fixed Interval Schedule (FI)

an operant conditioning principle in which reinforcements are presented at fixed time periods, provided that the appropriate response is made

Variable Interval Schedule (VI)

an operant conditioning principle in which behavior is reinforced based on an average time that has expired since the last reinforcement

Fixed Ratio Schedule (FR)

an operant conditioning principle in which reinforcement is delivered after a specific number of responses have been made

Variable Ratio Schedule (VR)

an operant conditioning principle in which the delivery of reinforcement is based on a particular average number of responses

Intermittent Reinforcement

an operant conditioning principle in which only some of the responses made are followed by reinforcement

Intermittent-Reinforcement Effect

the fact that operant behaviors that are maintained under intermittent reinforcement schedules resist extinction better than those maintained under continuous reinforcement


learning that results from the reinforcement of successive approximations to a final desired behavior

Pleasure Centers

some brain areas, especially those in the limbic system, that produce intensely positive experiences- deliver rewards through simulation, often by the release of dopamine

Medial forebrain bundle

a pathway that extends from the midbrain through the hypothalamus into the nucleus accumbens, with neurons that are extremely susceptible to stimulation that produces pleasure

Means-end relationship

Tolman proposed a situation in which a specific reward (the end state) will appear if a specific response (the means to that end) is made

Latent learning

a condition in which something is learned but it is not manifested as a behavioral change until sometime in the future

Cognitive map

a mental representation of the physical features of the environment

Observational Learning

a condition in which learning takes place by watching the actions of others

Mirror Neurons

types of cells found in the brains of primates/humans- fire when an animal performs a function, also fire when an animal watches someone else perform the same task- may play a critical role in the imitation of behavior as well as the prediction of future behavior

Implicit Learning

learning that takes place largely independent of awareness of both the process and the products of information acquisition

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